What it’s like to be sharing a polyamorous home during lockdown
Love in the time of coronavirus is tough enough for two. Adding a third or fourth romantic partner to the quarantine equation only makes life more complicated.
Splendor (1999) via Alamy
Quarantine is putting a lot of strain on people in relationships. For long-term couples, being trapped under the same roof 24/7 is inevitably going to cause friction. And while people might have entered lockdown expecting daytime sex and boozy lunches, many have ended up with arguments over whose turn it is to go queue at the supermarket. Divorce rates went through the roof in China post lockdown, and there’s no reason to expect things will be any different in the UK. For people in the early days of a relationship, it’s even tougher. There’s only so much phone sex you can have before things start to go stale.
For people in polyamorous relationships these complications are multiplied, and quarantine has forced some tough decisions. Some polyamorous people have been forced to choose one (or more than one) partner over others, while others have taken the choice to quarantine together. Polyamorous relationships aren’t exactly mainstream, and polyamorous individuals are more likely to reject traditional labels for their sexualities. However, the concept of exploring sex and relationships outside of monogamy is certainly on the rise. Five percent of people in relationships report practicing some form of consensual non-monogamy and dating app Feeld -- dubbed ‘Tinder for threesomes’ -- is reportedly thriving.
Billy Procida is the host of The Manwhore Podcast and has been in his current polyamorous relationship for 10 months. Billy lives in Brooklyn but is currently quarantined in Jersey City with his girlfriend Megan and Megan’s partner Kyle. “I figured if I’m going to be stuck somewhere, I’d rather be stuck with someone I love,” Billy tells me over the phone. Their quarantine started out on a trial basis when Billy happened to be in the area after a comedy gig, before a full lockdown was announced. Billy explains that they wanted to test the waters first and make sure the arrangement worked for everyone. The longest amount of time he and Megan had spent together prior to lockdown was on a five-day road trip. Luckily, they realised the set up was going to work out, and they’re now over a month into being quarantined together.
"People think it’s a 24-hour fuck fest, but, I don’t know, something about a global pandemic being mishandled by the most powerful world leaders… yeah, that doesn’t make me feel so horny."
Unlike some poly couples, Billy, Megan and Kyle are not all in a relationship together, but rather in a “V formation”, in other words, Billy and Kyle are not in a relationship with each other. I wanted to know if this caused any animosity between them. “Not at all,” says Billy instantly. “The only beef he’s had with me is ‘cause I’m kind of messy. Or he might be like ‘Billy can you crack a window if you’re gonna smoke weed in here?’” The dynamic isn’t all that different to being in a house share.
Billy doesn’t feel that his quarantine experience is all that different from that of monogamous couples. “I mean, we’re all still sitting around here in our sweatpants watching Netflix,“ he explains. “People think it’s a 24-hour fuck fest, but, I don’t know, something about a global pandemic being mishandled by the most powerful world leaders… yeah, that doesn’t make me feel so horny.” Quarantine has, however, helped him think up new ways of showing affection and expressing his feelings. “I’m naturally quite romantic,” he says. “I’ve had to think of new ways to be romantic, which in quarantine might just be something small like making her a cup of matcha tea for when she wakes up. Or perhaps an act of love could just be giving Megan some time and space to be by herself.”
Claire (not her real name) has been married for three years. When full lockdown was announced, Claire, her husband, and their girlfriend of six months chose not to quarantine together. “We did discuss it, but we all decided it was too soon to be doing that, that it would put too much pressure on the relationship,” she explained. “But now that we’ve been apart for a few weeks it’s made us realise how much we all mean to each other. We’re all really missing each other and it’s been tough.” They have been regularly catching up on FaceTime and having virtual date nights, but Claire is worried for the future of the relationship. “I really feel for anyone in a new relationship right now,” she says. “Ours is no different, it’s still got that new relationship feeling, we’re still excited by one another, and trying to keep that spark going while we’re physically separated is hard.”
For Daniel Saynt -- founder of New York sex club NSFW -- the quarantine has left him and his relationships in limbo. Daniel was on vacation with one of his partners when the full lockdown was announced and the pair are now stuck on St Maarten. “I feel like I’m in some kind of limbo,” Daniel explains over email. “Like I’m in poly purgatory. I’m very happy to be with one of my partners, but I am severely missing my other partners and hope I can see them again before the connection diminishes.” Being with just one partner for an extended period isn’t something Daniel is used to. I wanted to know what quarantine had taught him about relationships, connection, and intimacy. “Being forced to be ‘monogamish’ has been a lesson for me,“ he says. I know I’m capable of being with one person, but it’s not what I want. And not getting what I want has taught me a lot about patience, acceptance, and how I love. I’m still very much in lust and love with the partner who is with me, but it’s a relationship based on restrictions out of our control. Will we still feel this way once the world becomes available to us?”
In the weeks and months to come the world will begin to return to normal. Once going on Tinder dates and meeting matches from Feeld becomes a possibility, how many relationships, (monogamous or poly) will survive? “We keep joking that if we can survive this, they’ll be no breaking us up,” says Claire. “We’ll be the toughest triad going. But for now, we’re just taking it day by day, just like the rest of the world.”